EWE, Tennet, Gasunie and Thyssengas start cooperation

EWE hydrogen production in Elsfleth

So far, EWE has advanced the production, storage and network integration of green hydrogen with partners in the “Clean Hydrogen Coastline” project.

(Photo: dpa)

Berlin The windy north-west of Germany is ideal for producing green hydrogen with electricity from renewable energies. Several projects should pave the way to the hydrogen world over the next few years. Four players are now pooling their projects: the energy group EWE, the electricity network operator Tennet and the gas network operators Gasunie and Thyssengas conclude a cooperation agreement and thus bring together the “Clean Hydrogen Coastline” and “Element eins” projects.

In the “Clean Hydrogen Coastline” project, several industrial partners are working to bring together various stages of the value chain in the hydrogen economy. The project combines the production, storage and network integration of green hydrogen with applications in the steel industry and in the transport sector. The steel manufacturer Arcelor-Mittal, the commercial vehicle manufacturers Faun, Gasunie, Tennet, EWE and the energy supplier SWB are involved. The cumulative investment volume amounts to well over a billion euros.

“Clean Hydrogen Coastline” has been shortlisted for funding as an “Important Project of Common European Interest” (IPCEI) since May. The EU Commission will probably decide at the beginning of next year whether the project may be funded according to the IPCEI guidelines. Should that be the case, the upper limits of the European state aid law for a subsidy would no longer apply, and the Federal Minister of Economics could grant considerably higher subsidies than usual.

Gasunie, Tennet and Thyssengas are behind “Element Eins”. In October 2018, the trio announced the construction of an electrolyser in the 100 megawatt class to convert electricity from renewable sources into green hydrogen. As part of a feasibility study, Diele in the East Frisian district of Leer was identified as the ideal location. The hall is an important hub in the power grid. This is where electricity from wind turbines on land and at sea converges, and at the same time, Diele is not far from the gas pipeline network. Ideal prerequisites for producing hydrogen from excess wind power, which can then be fed into the gas network or used for other purposes.

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Federal Network Agency ensured an uncertain future

But the Federal Network Agency has rejected the “Element one” project, with which the three companies wanted to test the entry into hydrogen electrolysis on an industrial scale. The regulatory authority is of the opinion that it is not part of the business of a gas or electricity network operator to produce green hydrogen.

“Element one” was facing an uncertain future. That is why the three initiators are now placing “Element One” in the hands of EWE. “The project fits in perfectly with our plans to build a complete hydrogen infrastructure in northwest Germany. The location is ideal from every conceivable point of view, ”said Stefan Dohler, CEO of EWE, the Handelsblatt. “The proximity to the future hydrogen consumption centers in Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Bremen and Hamburg predestines the northwest as a nucleus for the development of a large-scale hydrogen infrastructure,” he added.

“Our goal was to use element one to provide an impetus for ramping up a hydrogen infrastructure. We are pleased that EWE will now ensure that the project will be implemented, ”said Thomas Gößmann, Chairman of the Management Board of Thyssengas, the Handelsblatt. “EWE can use all of our preliminary work such as concepts and feasibility studies for the location and network integration,” said Gößmann.

More: An Australian wants to close Germany’s hydrogen gap

Handelsblatt Energie Briefing

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